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The Labyrinth,Part I
Someone Is About To Experience QUITE A Wake-Up Call!
It was a Monday morning in September 2009. Joseph Krauss was getting ready for work. He lived with his wife and two children in Concord Gardens, an upper class exurb just outside of Saratoga Springs, New York. By all appearances, he is a highly successful man. He is the CEO of Livingston Pharmaceuticals, a company specializing in newer and organic forms of medicines and pills. He supervises twenty thousand people altogether. This includes everyone from executives to the delivery person.
Joseph indeed loves his job very much. Why shouldn't he? He is the ruler- emperor, kaiser, and king of everything within his purview! In fact, he would have it no other way. While many people dread Mondays, he actually anticipates them. He is indeed a go-getter and take-charge person! You could say that he runs the company like a latter day tsar. As a CEO, autocratic would be an understatement. During meetings with the president, vice president, and senior level account executives, no one in his/her right mind would DARE disagree with him. Not if he/she wish to remain employed and want good references.
Joseph is not the type of person to be confronted. In fact, he can be quite intimidating. He believes that a good subordinate is an obedient and submissive one. If an employee was diligent and remained unobstrusive, he/she could remain gainfully employed with the company. Of course, there were more independent and creative types who suggested ways that the company could be much better. However, he did not heed the suggestions. In fact, he considered those suggestions an affrontery to his supposed executive genius! He also found ways to get rid of them. He did this either through constructive discharge i.e. he made the person's work environment so unbearable that he/she is left with no other choice but resignation. Often he would fire them outright! This was not a problem for him because in these perilous socioeconomic times, there are plenty of people that are willing to work, even for an obnoxious boss like him.
Joseph has always been quite a character. Physically, he cut quite a handsome figure. He was extremely tall, muscular, with tanned skin, light golden blond hair, and turquoise blue eyes. He was the oldest of two children born into a lower upper class German-American family. His father, Alois Krauss, came from a Silesian German family while his mother, Martha Krauss nee Kaufmann, was a German-American. While Joseph was the apple of his mother's eyes and her undoubted favorite, Alois considered him to not to be masculine enough!
To Alois, Joseph was extremely sensitive as a boy. It was Alois's intention to make a man out of his son. He forced Joseph to participate in all sorts of rough sports even if it was not initially to his liking. He was totally of the old school. Based upon his Hitler Youth background, he believed that boys were to be tough and strong, never to show sentiment nor any other type of weakness. Any type of weakness was considered to be effeminate in his eyes. Joseph, his son, was NOT going to show any weakness! No sir, not if HE could help it!
Joseph remembered one day when he was 7 years old. One boy had an animus against him because he was of delicate build at the time. This boy would continuously taut him, calling him all types of pejorative names. In addition to that, the boy beat him up. He ran home to his mother, bloodied and crying. His mother cleaned him up and soothed him. When his father arrived home, he asked what was wrong with Joseph. His mother replied that a boy beat him up! His father then inquired to the mother if Joseph fought back. His mother repllied in the negative.
Joseph recalled his father becoming incensed, slapping his face a couple of time. Then his father started to rant in his Silesian German dialect, asking if Joseph was a man or a mouse! He remembered trembling and his father continued with his tirade. His mother tried to intervene but to no avail. He ordered the mother to leave the room. He then grabbed Joseph, forcing him to fight! Joseph stated that he DID NOT want to fight! However, his father asserted that in order to be a man and respected, he had to fight as that was a part of life, especially for males!
Joseph appeared hesitant to fight; however, his father repeatedly punched him. Suddenly, Joseph became angry and punched his father hard in the face, resulting in his nose bleeding! His father beemed and congratulated him for being a man! Joseph stated that he felt strangely and perversely proud. So instead of being the victim, Joseph now become the bully. In fact, he was the MOST feared bully in his elementary and junior high school.
By the time, Joseph reached high school, he lost his delicate build, becoming extremely muscular. In fact, he was known as a jock. He was extremely macho and cocksure. He was also the leader of the other high school jocks. With his blond good looks, it was a given that he could have any girl that he wanted. He only respected the wealthier, prettier girls while he disrespected the poorer girls.
Everyone in high school feared him. All except for a group of rural boys from a nearby farm. One of the farm boys, Paul Zyk, definitely was not afraid of him. In fact, Paul considered Joseph to be a spoiled punk who needed to be put in his place. There was actually no love lost between Joseph and Paul. Each hated each other! While Paul considered Joseph to be a spoiled punk, he considered Paul to be an unwashed farm boy!
While Joseph and Paul were both extremely tall, muscular, athletic, and handsome, they were the opposite in coloring. Paul was the complete opposite in coloring to Joseph-he had jet black hair, dark brown almost black eyes, and dark warm tanned skin. Paul was a straight A student while Joseph was a B student. However, as Joseph was only too glad to edify-he was popular while Paul was well- unpopular.
Joseph and his cohorts often harassed Paul and his friends because they came from a lower socioeconomic background than theirs. He continued with his obnoxious bullying behavior throughout college and later in his career. People would often remark how curt and unprofessional Joseph was. He did not know how to properly interface with people. In terms of emotional intelligence, he was imbecilic in that department. However, his methodology in getting things done, no matter how brusque, often brought results. His results results in receiving subsequent promotions to where he is now, CEO!
If Joseph was brusque at work., his home personality could be described as perfunctory, distant, and cold. His wife, Helen Krauss nee Lindquist, was his college sweetheart- an ex-model, ex- cheerleader, and ex- beauty queen. She was the perfect trophy wife and nothing else. If he desired friendship and comraderie, he had his college friends. For sexual relationships, he had two mistresses in different towns. He hardly spoke to his two children, a teenaged boy and a college aged girl. He found his teenage son to be very sensitive and wishy washy! The less contact with his son, the better!
Joseph continued his breakneck work pace. Working 14 hour days were not unusual for him. In fact, he relished it and used it as an excuse to get away from his boring, strange, and inept family. A lot of the time, he used the excuse of working long days to engage in a tryst with one or both of his mistresses. Everyone knows this.......Well, everyone except for Helen!
One unusually dark and cold Friday evening in November 2009. Joseph was returning home after the usual long day at work. However, the streets were unusually desolate. As he was walking home, an apparition appeared. The apparition spoke in German. He was not paying attention to the apparition, he figured that it was a hallucination. However, the apparition kept calling his name and speaking in German. He again paid the apparition no attention and hailed a cab home.
When he arrived home, there was nobody there. Helen was at a neighbor meeting and the children were with their friends. He closed the door and lit the spacious fireplace in the front room. The apparition then reappeared, exhorting him to listen. The apparition become more clearer. The apparition identified himself as Alois.
Joseph indicated that this was ridiculous. His father died two years ago; further reasoning that there was no life after death. The apparition warned him to change his ways before it is too late. The apparition indicated that upon death he realized how wrong and cruel he was. However, the apparition maintained that he remained unrepentant. The apparition told him what a terrible and cruel father he was. The apparition maintained that there was definitely an afterlife.
The apparition stated that when he died, he went to an extremely cold, dark, and desolate place. The apparition stated that karmia had to be worked out before proceeding to a better place. Joseph, of course, looked nonplussed at the apparition! He then laughed and scoffed at the apparition. The apparition became incensed, shouting that this was a VERY GRAVE matter for his soul was in extreme peril. He again pushed off the warnings of the apparition!
The apparition was disheartened and quickly disappeared. Joseph decided to sit on the couch in front of the fireplace. He drank some cognac to warm up. He then went into the kitchen to prepare a bologna with mustard sandwich. He then returned to the front room and sat in front of the fireplace, eating the bologna sandwich and drinking his cognac. After a period of about twenty-five minutes, he noticed a tightening in his chest area. He paid the signals no attention. He had chest pains before and they disappeared. However this time, his chest pains did not disappeared and the pain increased. He was starting to feel a shortness of breath. He now could not breathe. He was beginning to panic and then he fell unconscious................